Why Dr. McCoy wasn’t old enough for the episode
Not many fans of Star Trek: The Original Series have “The Way to Eden,” the series third season episode, on their list of favorites. And while there are some redeeming qualities, overall, it’s on the to-be-skipped list. D.C. Fontana, who wrote the original script, didn’t see her story coming to fruition in this manner at all. In fact, what she had written was creatively different than what ended up on screen, and surprisingly, the change to her script came about because of what the producers saw as a problem with Dr. McCoy’s age.
According to Star Trek The Original Series 365 by Paula M. Block with Terry J. Erdmann, Fontana had written that Joanna, Dr. McCoy’s daughter, was the female in the group of space hippies. Bones isn’t at all happy to see her at first as she’d been telling him that she was studying to be a nurse so he finds out she’s been lying to him all along. Then, of course, Joanna had to get along “really” well with Captain Kirk which doesn’t please McCoy, either.
The rest of the plot would have remained the same with some minor changes. Dr. Sevrin was looking for Nirvana instead of Eden, and when they find the planet, it wasn’t poisonous; it’s just unlivable. So the entire group returns to the Enterprise where McCoy and Joanna managed to reconnect. But the producers nixed Fontana’s inclusion of Joanna immediately.
Why wasn’t Dr. McCoy old enough?
Once Fontana turned her draft of the script in, a producer told her McCoy wasn’t old enough to have a twenty-one-year old daughter because he was Kirk’s “contemporary,” even though DeForest Kelley, the actor who portrayed Dr. McCoy, would have been 48 in 1968.
Fontana was livid that the writers’ guide wasn’t even read so that the script could be considered. She requested her name be removed from it, choosing instead to use her pseudonym “Michael Richards.”
It’s disappointing that that fans didn’t get the chance to meet Dr. McCoy’s daughter and learn a little more of his background on TOS. There was so little opportunity for the growth of the characters, but both Captain Kirk and Spock had family members introduced. Fans would not have had an issue with Joanna’s age or Dr. McCoy’s, for that matter. And the way the episode turned out, it’s understandable why D.C. Fontana didn’t want her real name to be associated with the final result of “The Way to Eden.”